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2009 Charlotte Jumper Classic, CSI 5* Features Exciting Puissance Class as New Event

Charlotte, NC - March 27, 2009 - The 2009 Charlotte Jumper Classic, CSI 5* will have an exciting new class added to the schedule this year. The Puissance will be held on Saturday, April 11, during the evening session that starts at 7 p.m. The Charlotte Jumper Classic, one of the nation's best show jumping events, is held on April 10-12 at the Time Warner Cable Arena in downtown Charlotte, which is also home to the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats basketball team.

"Our riders are some of the best on the circuit, all very accomplished and ranked worldwide," said Bob Johnson, Chairman of the Bobcats Youth Foundation and Owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. "I am excited to add the Puissance Class to this year's Charlotte Jumper Classic and know that the riders and attendees will enjoy an exciting competition."

The Puissance has a rich history in equestrian sport. Puissance means "powerful", or having the power to do something. It is a class that requires special talent and concentration from the horse and rider. The competition involves jumping a puissance wall. The starting height is a minimum of 4'6" and often is raised to over seven feet tall. The Puissance is not the same as the High Jump, because the Puissance is a series of bricks built as a wall rather than angled poles as used in the high jump.

The world record for the outdoor Puissance is held by German rider Franke Sloothaak, who in 1991 jumped 7'10" on Leonardo in Chaudfontaine, Belgium. At the 1983 Washington International Horse Show, the American Indoor Record was set by Anthony d'Ambrosio and Sweet 'n' Low, who jumped 7'7".

The Puissance is a featured event at the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), where last year Michael Morrissey of Bradenton, FL, tried to set the new American Indoor Record with his horse Scaraberas. Although they did not set the record at 7'8", they did win the class at 7'1/2".

Last year's attempt at the WIHS was Morrissey's second Puissance class with Scaraberas. At the 2008 Dublin Horse Show in Ireland, they cleared 6'11" in the pouring rain. "In the last minute I went in the Puissance," Morrissey explained. "I've had that horse since he was six years old and had never jumped him over a wall. We were third and jumped quite big in the pouring rain. He jumped fantastic, and he became a puissance horse in Dublin."

Morrissey has ridden Scaraberas, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding, for five years. He feels that his horse has certain qualities that make him perfect for a specialized class like the Puissance.

"He's super brave," Morrissey acknowledged. "I don't think I've ever been on a horse braver than him. He'll jump anything and everything. They have to be very brave to go down to a seven foot wall. They also have to have the talent and athleticism to do it. He's got all of those qualities. He's big, scopey, careful, brave, and very athletic for such a big horse, which really helps."

Morrissey went to the 2008 WIHS in anticipation of the Puissance class. "At Washington, I was really looking forward to the Puissance because Scaraberas was so good in Dublin. I really studied it and went on YouTube and watched a lot of puissance rounds. I learned a lot on how to ride a big wall," he said. "You ride a big wall a lot differently than you would a normal fence. It all worked out in Washington."

Morrissey plans to compete with Scaraberas at this year's Puissance class at the Charlotte Jumper Classic and hopes he will get another shot at setting a new record.

"I've always loved the Puissance, and it's been my favorite class. I've always wanted to do them. I think we should have more of them in this country, so I'm really happy to see that Charlotte has added it to their show schedule," he added. "Spectators love to watch it, and it's a very crowd-pleasing exhibition."

Morrissey and other top grand prix riders can be seen in the highlight events of the 2009 Charlotte Jumper Classic: The Puissance class on Saturday, April 11, at 7 p.m., and the $450,000 Grand Prix of Charlotte on Sunday, April 12, at 3 p.m.

The $450,000 Grand Prix of Charlotte, CSI 5* will also be televised, and a live webcast of the show will be available online.

The Charlotte Jumper Classic, a fundraiser for the Bobcats Youth Foundation, will host more than 150 horses in Uptown Charlotte and features $575,000 in prize money. For more information on the Charlotte Jumper Classic, please visit their Web site at http://www.charlottejumperclassic.com.

Photo Credit: Michael Morrissey will compete in the new Puissance class at the 2009 Charlotte Jumper Classic. They won the Puissance at the 2008 Washington International Horse Show. Photo Jennifer Wood/PMG. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.


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